I’ve just finished reading ‘The BLUE ZONES’. It’s a book about the longest living people in the world. Where they come from, what their diet, outlook and lifestyle is like, and how these factors correlate with longevity. I readily devoured it at my local waterfall over a few days, and now conclude how fortunate I am to have been counted as living in one of them.
You see, I am a Seventh Day Adventist. My mother taught me to bake my own bread at 13, took all of her three children to church as often as she could, encouraged us to limit our intake of animal products, to pray, enjoy the use of medicinal herbs, massage, eat an abundance of whole plant based foods, and make use of hydrotherapy. Although we weren’t your typical blue-blood SDA family (means goes back generations), we certainly embraced the Bible’s teachings and what they call the ‘Health Message.’
Being so passionate about health and living agelessly, I was immediately interested to read Dan Buettner‘s take on not only Seventh Day Adventists, but the other ‘Blue Zones’ in his National Geographic acclaimed title. I must say I’ve come away feeling extremely blessed. So much of what I know, practice daily and share with others is actually rooted in my SDA culture.
I caught up with Dan asking him a few questions! His answers are in Italic.
Hi Dan! I was fascinated by the simplicity of the different blue zones dwellers in your book. Simplicity in diet, lifestyle, family connectedness. What has been the most profound
finding for you?
Happy Sabbath Abigail! The most profound finding for me was the sense of purpose all of the centenarians possessed. We have a society in the U.S. that looks at retirement as a time to sit around, relax, and do anything but work, but in the Blue Zones regions of the world they find purpose in raising children and grandchildren, tending their gardens, and supporting the community. In Okinawa, they don’t even have a word for retirement!
Are there any lifestyle practices that you personally have incorporated into your life after studying the SDAs blue zone?
I try to practice all of the ‘Power 9’ principles every day. I bike or walk to work, I constantly connect with friends and family, and I always make sure that I find time to
decompress even with a busy schedule.
Do you think that the various blue zones
have peaked, and will now begin declining in longevity as their lifestyles become more
mainstream? I know some of my Adventist friends are eating meat in place of nuts,
drinking alcohol instead of enjoying a hydro session and choosing an afternoon of social
media lounge vegetation over the traditional nature walks.
Western influences–and economic prosperity–have crept into these once-isolated regions
of the world, especially in places like Okinawa, where they once used to eat traditional
foods and walk daily, they now eat high-calorie American fast food and depend on cars
I’ve heard you have a new book out? Congratulations Dan! Can you enlighten us a just a
little on your ‘Blue Zones of Happiness‘? Are they the same Blue Zones as before?
For this book, I worked with National Geographic and Gallup to identify the statistically
“happiest” places in the world: Costa Rica, Denmark, and Singapore. In each of these
places I found a different strand of happiness at play. In Costa Rica it was pleasure.
People there find joy and celebration in every day life. In Denmark it was purpose.
Citizens are free to live out their passions and pursue their interests. And in Singapore it
was pride. Looking back on their lives as a whole, people in Singapore are proud of what
they’ve accomplished and are living out their values. I think you should have a balanced
happiness portfolio the same way you’d have a balanced financial portfolio. A balanced
financial portfolio might have cash, stocks, and bonds–likewise, for happiness, you should
have the right measure of enjoying your life day-to- day, having pride in being able to
evaluate your life well, and living with purpose.